Friday, October 27, 2006

Orkut and the Ku Klux Klan

Thanks to the “I hate India” and similar groups, Orkut is taking a lot of flak in the media and outside, with a number of crazies asking for it to be shut down, regulated beyond imagination, and so on.
But Orkut is forever.
I am on no Orkut group. I once got onto a Ryze group, but did nothing with it other than post a rudimentary profile.
Orkut means nothing to me.
But it means a lot to my daughter.
She’s part of a number of groups on Orkut, including one that discusses Osho chappals. I swear that’s true.
And she Orkuts (no reason why it shouldn’t be a capitalized verb, if one can be Bangalored) for an hour or so each evening.
What she’s doing on the Internet is what another generation did outside of it. She’s catching up with like-minded people – not all of them anonymous and unknown. As time goes on, the group shrinks into grouplings and grouplets, tighter and tighter as the Orkuters find more and more common ground.
Objectors to Orkut should take a look at the Orkuts that we have had for years in the real world. Like the adda in Kolkata. Like the kitty parties anywhere in India. Like the Lion’s Club, like the Rotary, like chess clubs and carom clubs. Like the Laughter Clubs, like jazz societies and poetry readings and drama groups.
They’re all Orkuts.
And that’s the reason Orkut means nothing to me. I already am a groupie in a number of real life Orkuts. I have groups that I drink with, that I party with, that I work with, that I holiday with. I’m 45, and I already have all the Orkuts that I need.
My daughter is 18, still searching for her real life Orkuts. She’ll find them as she experiences life.
As for those who object to the “I hate India” kind of groups and to the pimping and the soliciting, may I remind them that they exist in the real world, too? Where they can, and do, cause a lot more trouble than in a virtual one?
We’ve had the Ku Klux Klan, we’ve had the Naxalbari movement, and we’ve had all shades of terrorists. And they met or meet in physical spaces, saw or see each other in the flesh and plotted or plot their crimes.
Rather than ban these groups on Orkut, one would have thought the authorities would be surreptitiously getting into these groups in order that they might have a better idea of those behind them and what they might be up to. Easier than phone tapping and satellite surveillance, one would think. Shut them down, and the struggle is harder.
On another note, the thought of the “I hate India” or the “I hate Pakistan” groups causing trouble is ridiculous – it’s like Dawood Ibrahim wearing a T-Shirt that says “I’m a Terrorist” and walking down Mumbai’s Marine Drive on a Sunday morning.
Orkut will have to defend – unnecessarily, in my opinion – that they are a danger to none. They will do so, and they will continue doing what they’re doing for a long time to come.
Because there’s one abiding reason why Orkut is forever.
It mirrors life.


Anushree said...

I don’t quite agree. It is my opinion that nifty groups like the ones you just talked about, add a lot of drama, to their cause (however lowly it might be) and gather public support.
Hitler of the coming era would be the bespectacled sly guy who operates from home, arranges for clandestine meetings in private chat rooms and spreads his thoughts via blogs and cell phones. And then blows up the White house.
Howzzat for a plot?
Nipping racist/fundamentalist internet groups, in the bud is the only thing to do.

Anant Rangaswami said...

How do you figure out which group is racist/fundamentalist if it cloaks itself differently? What if the "I hate India" group called itself "I love Pakistan", and continued with whatever activities they intended on?
Anyway, their being on the net would make it infinitely easier for the authorities to find them --by infiltration, through IP addresses, and so on.
Drama for causes is already available through MSM -- look at the amount of publicity Osama gets, the amount of publicity all the groups for and against reservation get, and so on.

Anushree said... your logic, it's okay to
have pro-genocide internet groups and online suicide clubs.

"Drama for causes is already available through MSM" Ermm...yea, so lets add to the razzmatazz and bring in crazy internet groups that proliferate debased ideas and loom off mile-long communities. So that a whole new crop of brain-washed schmucks can then subscribe to those ideas and dutifully pass them on to the next generation. Charming.

If there's a group called 'I hate India' on Orkut, I want to pull the plug on that one:p

Anant Rangaswami said...

The fundamental issue remains -- these groups exist and proliferate without the internet and without Orkut or any other social newtworking site. The offline one CANNOT be stopped. And online, there is an inherent collective corrective mechanism -- as, to some degree, proven by the fact that you and I are able to debate, and the few hundred who visit this blog are able to weigh and take positions.
If the greater number agree with you, I'll be panned. And corrected.
Not contrite, though!

Anoop Saha said...

I take objection to comparing KKK with the naxalbari uprising. But then, its about freedom of speech.

Anant Rangaswami said...

I'm not getting judgmental here. I grew up in Calcutta, and count friends who embraced, or flirted with, Naxalism.
The point one is trying to make is that Kanu Sanyal managed to spread the word in a Bengal where phones didn't work, forget Orkut.
So did the Ku Klux Klan spread their word without the Internet.
One thing neither of us can aruge about -- both broke the laws of their lands -- many, many times.